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Judge won’t reconsider daily fines against Chelsea Manning for refusal to testify

WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning will not get a hearing to challenge steep daily penalties imposed for her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

In an order issued Monday, Judge Anthony Trenga in suburban Alexandria, Va., federal court said there were no ‘‘reasonable grounds’’ to reconsider his decision to impose the fines, which started at $500 daily and have now risen to $1,000 a day. She could be incarcerated for a total of 18 months; her attorneys estimate that the total cost will be close to half a million dollars.

Manning had argued that she did not have the financial ability to pay the fines and asked for a hearing to make that clear. Trenga found that she ‘‘has the ability to comply
. . . or will have the ability after her release from confinement.’’

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In a statement Wednesday, she said: ‘‘I am disappointed but not at all surprised. The government and the judge must know by now that this doesn’t change my position one bit.’’

Prosecutors wanted Manning to testify about her interactions with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, to whom she leaked thousands of classified government cables in 2010. Manning spent seven years in a military prison for her disclosures before being released by President Barack Obama.

Since Manning first went to jail in March, Assange has been arrested and charged with violating the Espionage Act. She argues that her testimony is no longer necessary.

washington post